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Historic Hall’s Chapel to be focus of Kauffman Museum program

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The next Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum event at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum will focus on the story of historic Hall’s Chapel, an African Methodist Episcopal congregation in Newton.

The program takes place Sunday, Nov. 30, at 3:30 p.m. at the museum and is free and open to the public.

This program grows out of the oral history project that was a joint effort between Hall’s Chapel and Rachel Pannabecker, director of Kauffman Museum, a project that received major funding from the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC).

“I became interested in oral history when the nationally known StoryCorps project came to Newton in June 2007,” Pannabecker said. “I realized that there were many more areas of local history that deserved to be recorded.”

Pannabecker worked with Sammie Simmons, Hall’s Chapel steward pro tem, to organize interviews and apply for funding from KHC. They named their project “A Charge to Keep,” from a line of the Charles Wesley hymn sung at the 2005 dedication of the church’s new building at 719 E. Eleventh Street in Newton.

“The church has a long history in Newton,” Simmons noted. The congregation traces its beginning to 1875, when Christians of the Methodist faith organized the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wichita with a circuit to Emporia and Newton. AME members in Newton formed Hall’s Chapel in 1901 under the leadership of Reverend Silas W. Washington.

The Kauffman Museum program will include recorded memories and photographs gathered for the project, as well as the public launch of a Web site that will help share the story of Hall’s Chapel.

Kauffman Museum is located at 27th and North Main on the Bethel College campus in North Newton. Regular museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the museum, which also includes admission to the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its Web site,

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